Each Sunday we'll examine a potential draft pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. We began our series with a breakdown of Southern Cal wideout Marqise Lee (see story). Today, we'll take a look at a hard-hitting safety out of Louisville.
Height/Weight: 6-2, 208
The Eagles have been chasing Brian Dawkins since 2009, and their failed attempts to replace Weapon X have been well-documented. In between injuries, 2013 draft pick Earl Wolff provided the Eagles with a glimmer of hope, but it's hard to dispute that finding safety help, either through the draft or free agency, is the team's top priority heading into the offseason.
The 2014 draft class doesn't have a slam-dunk safety prospect like an Earl Thomas (to dredge up recent history), but does offer two players that should go somewhere in the first round - Alabama's Hasean Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor. One, Clinton-Dix, plays more like a classic free safety, while the other, Pryor, has the size and strength of a strong safety. Those distinctions get a bit blurred in the NFL these days, but because Chip Kelly is thought to believe in the "bigger people beat up little people" mantra, I'm going to focus on Pryor here.
Pryor, a junior, has tremendous size and the willingness to use it to great effect. He loves to throw his body around and is adept at making big, legal hits. Pryor often lines up near the line of scrimmage and makes quick reads, arriving at the ball at full speed. Pryor forced nine fumbles during his three years in college.
In coverage, he plays the deep ball as well as a centerfielder, using his quick hips and speed to get to the sidelines and help his corners over the top. He had three interceptions and four pass breakups in 2013.
You rarely see Pryor in man-to-man coverage, so it's hard to gauge how he'll do against tight ends and slot receivers at the NFL level. Based on his ability to turn and accelerate in zone coverage, as well as his size (which should play well against bigger TEs), I see no reason why Pryor couldn't stick with receivers in man-to-man.
How he'd fit with the Eagles
Let's start with the obvious. With Nate Allen, Colt Anderson, and Kurt Coleman set to become free agents, Patrick Chung hopefully already on a train out of town, and Wolff's inability to stay on the field, the safety position is screaming to be addressed.
In terms of scheme fit, Pryor's size and athletic ability should give defensive coordinator Billy Davis a tool he can move all over the field -- a player he can sneak up to the line to help against the run, or a taller deep safety to help over the top. Pryor would bring size to the safety position the Eagles haven't had since Michael Lewis.
Prospect reflection: T.J. Ward (Oregon), 2010: Second round (38th overall) by Cleveland Browns
Draft projection: First Round (top 20-30)
VIDEO: Great Pryor interception against Blake Bortles.